Advocacy

Opposing Force

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IMG_0955The Maryland Animal Shelter Standards Act, filed as HB 494, is the most comprehensive animal shelter reform bill in the
history of Maryland. It is a truly bipartisan effort that will save countless animal lives, bring about greater transparency and accountability in taxpayer-funded shelters throughout the state. HB494 will end convenience killing, including making it illegal for shelters to kill animals when rescue groups are willing to save them. Similar laws in other states save nearly 50,000 animals a year, have reduced killing statewide by 78%, have led to save rates of 94% and higher, and have cut millions of dollars in wasteful spending.

The Maryland Animal Shelter Standards Act will help lost and homeless pets to find homes, require commitment to a sound care protocol to guarantee compassionate care for the animals, mandate thorough intake procedure, create Transparency and Accountability.

The question is, why would a national animal welfare organizations like the ASPCA, a state wide organization like PAWS (Professional Animal Shelter Workers of Maryland), Harford County Humane Society, BARCS in Baltimore, Talbot County Humane Society and some other organizations oppose life saving measures? Simply said, this organizations are against ending convenience killing, against compassionate care for animals, against transparency, against accountability. Just recently the above mentioned groups made the following suggestion to be added to HB494:

I would recommend adding a requirement within this bill where shelters must tell the owner that the animal will be euthanized at the time of intake.

This is a very disturbing statement coming from a organization claiming to have the best interest of the animals in mind. How is it in the best interest of a animal to be killed?

The main problem with animal shelters in Maryland is that there is absolutely no oversight and there are no state regulations. Basically animal shelters in Maryland can operate any way they want. Last year, the Maryland Dog Federation has sent PIA (Maryland Public Information Act) requests to all animal shelters in the State of Maryland, requesting shelter intake and outcome data. Several animal shelters did not answer at all to the PIA requests. One of them was the Talbot County Humane Society, one of the main opponents to HB494.

It also should be noted that a member of the PAWS organization made 2 intimidating phone calls to the place of employment of one of the co-authors of HB494. This sure gives the term “Professional” a whole new meaning.

Is it really that difficult and complicated to implement HB494 in a animal shelter? No, not at all. As example, the Allegany County Animal Shelter exceeds the requirements of HB494 for about 5 years now. The Allegany County Animal Shelter, located in the poorest County of the State, is the first and only open admission No Kill shelter in the State of Maryland. The story of the Allegany County Animal Shelter has been captured in a Documentary in 2013 and maybe some of the answers can be found there:

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Life Is Hope

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The number one cause of death for companion animals in the US is the animal shelter. Every single day more than 6000 companion animals are being needlessly killed by people that are suppose to protect them and care for them.

Tragically, in the U.S. today, we have a system of facilities where animals are routinely neglected and abused, places where the normal rules of compassion and decency toward animals to which the vast majority of people subscribe simply do not apply. And most ironic of all, given that we are told that these facilities protect animals from our own neglect and abuse, is that this system of death camps is defended and celebrated by the nation’s largest animal “protection” organizations: HSUS, the ASPCA, and PETA. These organizations tell us that the killing is not the fault of the people in shelters who are actually doing the killing. But it is their fault. They are the ones who do it. It is right in their job description. They signed up for it. And that is not what kind hearted animal lovers do. And because kind hearted animal lovers won’t do it, they don’t work in these agencies. Or if they do, they don’t last.

 

To man whose mind is free there is something even more intolerable in the sufferings of animals than in the sufferings of man. For with the latter it is at least admitted that suffering is evil and that the man who causes it is a criminal. But thousands of animals are uselessly butchered every day without a shadow of remorse. If any man were to refer to it, he would be thought ridiculous. And that is the unpardonable crime.”


Romain Rolland, Nobel Prize 1915

 

While this quote was written in 1915, in many communities across the country it still holds true almost 100 years later. Luckily, the landscape of animal welfare has dramatically changed in the last 15 years and hundreds of communities across the country have implemented life saving measures for companion animals in animal shelters. Communities raised up to protect and care for companion animals in “their” community, creating a safe heaven for lost or unwanted pets.

Community members introduce Legislation, like CAPA (Companion Animal Protection Act), to make sure that companion animals are protected and cared for instead of being taken to the kill room and needlessly killed.

To learn more about how to get involved in changing YOUR community to a true animal welfare community that values life, visit the following websites:

http://www.nokilladvocacycenter.org

http://www.nokilllearning.com

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Shelter Stories: Mikey

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Here at the Allegany County Animal Shelter in Cumberland, MD we are proud of what we are doing. We believe that every animal entering the shelter deserves a chance of a new life. Most animals we take in are being adopted out in to loving homes rather quickly. Every now and then however, for reasons we don’t really understand, animals are staying at our shelter a little bit longer. So did, as example, Mikey who was with us for 2.5 years. For some reason he always was overlooked by potential adopters, was too big, too strong, one of “those dogs”, too dangerous and many other things. Dogs like Mikey, who are with us for a longer period of time, receive special attention through individualized kennel enrichment and socialization tailored to the individual dog. On October 18th, we had our largest Adoption event of the year, “Barktoberfest” Downtown Cumberland, MD. About 2 month prior to the event, I started preparing Mikey for that special event. My goal was to make it special for him and my idea was to use him as a camera dog, wearing a GoPro Camera on his back:

Mikey6In the morning of October 18th, Mikey and I went in to the Truck and we drove Downtown. We both were nervous but after about 30 minutes we became comfortable with the unusual situation and the fun started:

Mikey9    Mikey8

Mikey met a lot of people and a lot of other dogs, just being himself like he had always done that. Then, Mikey caught the attention of two young Ladies who really seem to love him. Some pictures were taken, phone calls were made and then……Mikey was adopted. A last hug and good bye to Mikey: Mikey4 Mikey went home with a wonderful family and now is living a wonderful and well deserved life: Mikey10 There is so much to learn from Mikey’s story which is why I wanted to share his story. Mikey’s story also is my story and our story. It is who and what we are: The Shelter of Hope

Understanding No Kill in Allegany County and beyond

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Interview with Douglas Anthony Cooper

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dac4Douglas Anthony Cooper has written bestselling novels, and recently wrote a series of articles highly critical of PETA and in support of the national No Kill movement.
This work, “PETA’s Death Cult,” appeared in the Huffington Post, and was a finalist for the Canadian Online Publishing Awards, in the category of “Best Online-Only Article or Series of Articles.”
Douglas Anthony Cooper has also written for various magazines and newspapers, including Wired, the New York Times, and Rolling Stone. He won a National Magazine Award in Canada for a travel essay in Saturday Night. A piece in Travel + Leisure won the Lowell Thomas Gold Medal from the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation in 2004, and was collected in The Best American Travel Writing 2004.
In his newest project, Douglas Anthony Cooper is working on a Seuss-like picture book that is suited for children as well as for adults. It is about the life and adventures of “Galunker”, a Pit Bull type dog.
His partner on this is Dula Yavne, a fabulous illustrator from Tel Aviv, whose work has been shown around the world.

No Kill Alegany County (NKAC):  How and why did you get involved in animal welfare and the No Kill movement?

Douglas Anthony Cooper (DAC): Well, it started when I fell in love with dogs. I was always keen on animals, but not really obsessed with dogs until my girlfriend insisted that we get one — and now we have four. A friend alerted me to the mass slaughter of dogs by PETA; I was furious, and decided to write a piece about it. While researching that I came across Nathan Winograd’s article about Newkirk. And it just took off from there.

NKAC: You have become a fixture and outspoken Advocate for the No Kill movement: you have written several articles for the Huffington Post condemning PETA and the mass killing of companion animals in animal shelters. What does the No Kill movement mean to you, and in what way has it changed your life?’

DAC: Well, to me it’s just a no-brainer: once you realize that some three million adoptable shelter animals are being killed annually — for no reason — it’s pretty hard not to get involved. And for me, the most effective way to contribute is through writing — that’s what I do. Once I started covering this, it snowballed: partially because I realized just how many enemies that No Kill has, and just how vicious they are. It’s crucial to stand up to them. This is one of the most important political campaigns in the nation — a revolution in animal welfare.
It’s completely changed my life. Not simply because I have all sorts of lovely new enemies across the continent, but because I’ve never really had the opportunity to devote myself completely to an unambiguously good cause.

NKAC: Your newest project is a picture book about a pit-bull-type dog with the name “Galunker”. Tell us a little bit about it. Who is Galunker, how did you come up with the idea, and what do you hope to accomplish with it?

DAC: Partially it’s an effort to make up for my own bigotry. For years I swallowed all the misinformation about pit bulls: that they had locking jaws, were uniquely dangerous, etc. My girlfriend finally convinced me — after presenting me with all of the statistics and studies — that I was just wrong. Completely wrong. And this kind of widespread error is responsible for a million pit bulls killed every year in shelters. It’s not a trivial mistake.
One of the things that inspired me was the story of Michael Vick’s pit bulls. The rescuers had been told that these were some of “the most dangerous dogs in America”. Not only were they NOT dangerous, but one went on to become a therapy dog in a hospital.
So I came up with a children’s story about a rescued fighting dog, Galunker, who terrifies everyone — and who is scheduled for execution at the shelter — until one small girl, Blinky, discovers that he’s in fact harmless and completely lovable. So it’s her against the world: she’s determined to save this dog from the evil woman who runs the city’s shelters. The woman’s name is Ms. Breezy Pacifical Ooze (a take on Breed Specific Laws). Blinky is, like Galunker, a misunderstood outsider: a tiny girl with an eye patch, who has questionable social skills. They become this heroic pair.
And then I stumbled over the work of this fabulous illustrator, Dula Yavne — I thought she’d be perfect for the project, so I approached her. She dove right in, and has come up with fabulous illustrations. Really great.

NKAC: Today, May 27th 2014, is the start of the Galunker Kickstarter project. Can you tell us what Kickstarter is and how it works?

DAC: Dula and I were both aware that there was no way we were going to get a traditional publishing house to release a kids’ book about a pit bull. Both of us have had our work distributed worldwide, but we were told that with regard to Galunker, “we might as well create a children’s book about meth.” The misconceptions are just too widespread. So we decided to turn to Kickstarter.
Kickstarter is a so-called “crowd funding” organization — it’s a way of raising funds for various things, including artistic projects: indie CDs, books, etc. What happens is that you put together a complete proposal, describing the project in detail, and you invite people to “pledge” funds. Depending upon how much money they give, they become entitled to certain rewards: say, a signed first-edition, or a t-shirt with Galunker printed on it, etc. For people who pledge a lot, we’ll have Dula paint a portrait of their dog. (This will be available to only a few people — it’s a lot of work, and she’s a perfectionist.)

NKAC: Do you have any plans for more picture books? Perhaps more Galunker adventures or any other projects you have in mind and would like to share with us?

DAC: If this takes off, we’ll certainly contemplate a series. Either a sequel to Galunker, or more books devoted to misunderstood animals. Dula and I have discovered that we love working together.
And we have strong reason to believe that it will take off: pit bulls have a hugely committed community of activists, and they’ve shown real support for this book. These dogs need all the help they can get.

NKAC: Anything you would like to add?

DAC: Just that the first few days really matter. If people could pledge this week, we’d really appreciate it: Kickstarter projects require momentum, and then they just keep rolling. Also, it would be stunning if animal advocates were to mention Galunker on their blogs, etc. Anything to get the word out. That’s how crowd-funding works: it’s all about making as much noise as possible. And we think this is a truly important project.

 

Thank you, Douglas Anthony Cooper, for this interview.

 

Galunker on the web

Galunker on Facebook

Kickstarter

 

Final Maryland Pet Legislation Update

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The Legislative Session in Maryland has come to a end. Besides of the dog bite legislation, lawmakers passed four other important animal related bills!  Below are all the details about the bills we have been tracking this session, including links to committee votes, floor votes and the bill language.

Thank you to Tami Santelli for keeping up with the updates.

 


 

BILLS THAT PASSED:   Dog Bite Liability Compromise (SB 247/HB 73) – Signed into law YESTERDAY!

Roadside Zoos (SB 827/HB 1124)

Devocalization (SB 660/HB 667)

Surgical Procedures (SB 659/HB 665)

School Reporting – Animal Cruelty (HB 222)

BILLS THAT FAILED (L):   Costs of Care (HB 93) – the House and Senate passed different versions of this bill and never reconciled the differences

Prohibiting Breed Discrimination (HB 422) – this bill never received a vote on the Senate floor before the legislature adjourned

Cost of Care Task Force (SB 513/HB 795)

Dogs and Cats in Research (SB 862/HB 1347)

Dog Bite Liability – Dogs Running At-Large (HB 80) – the concept of this bill was added onto the compromise bill that eventually passed (SB 247/HB 73)

Dog Bite Liability – Strict Liability (SB 286)

Dog Bite Liability – Third Parties (HB 563) – the concept of this bill was also in the language of the compromise bill that eventually passed (SB 247/HB 73)

Dog Bite Liability – Insurance Discrimination (SB 285)

Dangerous Dogs (HB 371)

Dangerous Dogs – Increased Penalties (HB 523)

  Animal Abuser Registry (HB 373)

Animal Abuser Registry (SB 912) – this bill never received a vote in committee or on the floor   Feral Cats (SB 1010) – this bill never received a vote in committee or on the floor   Tax Credit – Dog/Cat Adoptions (HB 1358) – this bill never received a vote in committee or on the floor   Horse Slaughter (HB 1392)

  Statewide Sunday Hunting (HB 671 & HB 890) – neither of these bills ever received a vote in committee or on the floor  

Oranjie is home again

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When I saw him for the first time a little over 1 year ago, he came walking down the mountain through the woods behind the house.  His light orange color stood out from the leafless trees around him.

Over the next weeks and months I would see him more often, sometimes hiding in the bushes close to the house. There always was cat food on the back porch but he would not come on the porch when I was outside but I knew he was eating the food when he felt he was alone. On several occasions I was able to see his face close up, when he was eating on the porch and I was watching him from behind the window. He always kept his left eye half closed and it started to worry me. The decision was made to borrow a Trap and try to trap him. Week after week I watched him sitting right next to the trap without ever going in to the trap.

As the nights got cooler in November, he started using the straw filled winter box that I always kept on the porch and I would set the food right next to it. He became less scared and one day I finally was able to touch him. In December then I decided to take him inside for the winter since the night temperatures started dropping down to almost  zero degree.  Oranjie, as we named him,  seemed to have a ear infection, we cleaned his ears and vaccinated him. After looking at his left eye it seemed that the lower eye lid was sometimes rolling inside a little bit which could be from a injury or simply a birth defect. It was treated with some eye ointment. After spending some time inside, Oranjie also got neutered and received a rabies vaccination.

Today the time has come for Oranjie to go home. He loves to be outside and that is where he belongs, as do many other stray and feral cats. Oranjie is home again and I hope to see him many more times going up and down the mountain behind the house.

There are many other Oranjie’s out there, some are feral, some are friendly. This cats are not homeless, they have a home. Please think before you pick up a cat and take her away from her home. There is no reason to take a stray, healthy cat inside (other than temporarily for medical reasons, or spay/neuter) or even worse, to a animal shelter.

If you want to help a cat, please have her spayed/neutered, vaccinated and let her go back home.

To learn more about outside cats please visit the website from Alley Cat Allies